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May 23, 2018 - 1:41pm

Press release:

Today, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer called on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to administratively fund the work being done at the Northeast Center For Occupational Safety And Health For Agriculture, Forestry And Fishing (NEC) on the National tractor rollover protection systems (ROPS) rebate program.

Schumer said ROPS is a vital program, especially considering that farm-related deaths are up to 800 percent higher than many other major industries, with tractor overturns being their most frequent cause at a rate of 96 cases per year.

“ROPS is a critical and cost-effective rebate program that provides important information to farmers across the country on how to find and install the right rollover bar for their machinery. It is imperative that the CDC does everything possible to fund this program to help ensure that farmers and growers have every tool possible to stay safe and succeed,”Senator Schumer said.

The ROPS program facilitates rebates in states with state-based funding to farmers to cover approximately 70 percent of the cost for a farmer to install a ROPS roll bar retrofit kit on their tractor. According to Schumer, the original grant funding for this important program is slated to expire in September, and the CDC has discontinued the funding mechanism to allow for the continued federal investment in this program.

“Keeping family farmers and farm workers who operate dangerous machinery safe must be a major priority. That is why I am the urging the CDC to restore funding for this critical farm safety program and the subsequent research,” Schumer said. “The work done by organizations like the NEC is exactly the type of work the federal government should be investing in: it’s cost-effective, informed by real industry experts, and helps save farmers’ lives every day.

"By slashing available funding to this life-saving organization, we jeopardize successful programs that are providing critical resources to farmers, like a 1-800 safety hot-line number and on the ground experts in rural communities, so farmers can access the ROPS Rebate Program, which helps farmers correctly install rollover bars on their tractors just in case the tractor flips over. We need to do everything possible to make sure we are investing in developing new safety solutions for our farmers and growers. and I will be doing everything possible to make sure this program, which puts farmers first, is protected.”

According to NEC Director, Dr. Julie Sorensen, the program has also been considerably cost-effective with recent economic assessments pointing to a $5 million savings in NY State due to deaths and injuries averted through the program.

As stated by Sorensen, “Senator Schumer’s support for the ROPS program and dedication to the farming community is so essential to ensuring the sustainability of one of our state’s most crucial industries.”

Schumer said the agricultural community is the lifeblood of Upstate New York, and that protecting the well-being and safety of farmers must be a major priority.

In response to the hazardous environment of working on a farm, the Northeast Center For Occupational Safety And Health For Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing launched an effort to create the life-saving ROPS Rebate Program, which covers approximately 70 percent of the cost for a farmer to install a ROPS rollbar kit on their tractor.

In most cases, this means farmers only pay $500 or less for this life-saving equipment that can otherwise cost up to $1,200.

NEC also provides information to farmers throughout the country on how to find and install the right rollover bar.

Since its inception in 2006, the NEC reports that more than 2,150 tractors have been retrofitted with protective structures in seven states, with more than 1,500 of those retrofits occurring in New York State alone. Farmers throughout the country benefit from the hotline and administrative support that is provided through CDC funding.

Furthermore, Schumer said, participants in New York reported 221 close calls and 19 serious incidents in which death or injury was likely without the protective ROPS structures. However, all of this critical outreach and infrastructure surrounding the ROPS program could come to an end if the CDC allows the federal funding for the ROPS program to come to a halt. Schumer said that this program is vital to farmers and growers, and that he will do everything possible to ensure that the CDC administratively funds the program so that the inroads the ROPS program has made can continue.

A copy of the Senator’s letter appears below:

Dear Director Redfield, MD:

"I write to bring attention to a problem which continues to threaten the lives of farmers and growers in Upstate New York and nationwide. As you know, farm-related deaths are 800 percent higher than many other industries, with tractor overturns being the most frequent cause of deaths on farms, at a rate of 96 cases per year. I commend and appreciate the great work being done at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to invest in tractor rollover protection systems (ROPS) and the continued safety of our farmers. However, it has come to my attention that the federal funding for the ROPS program through NIOSH is in jeopardy of coming to an end in September. Therefore, I urge you to work with the Northeast Regional Center in Cooperstown, New York, as well as other NIOSH Centers across the country, in order to administratively fund this important work that saves almost 100 lives a year across the country.

As you know, our agricultural community is the lifeblood of rural America, and protecting the well-being and safety of our farmers must be a majority priority. In response to the hazardous environment of working on a farm, the Northeast Center For Occupational Safety And Health For Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (NEC) launched an effort to create the life-saving ROPS Rebate Program, which covers approximately 70% of the cost for a farmer to install a ROPS rollbar kit on their tractor. In most cases, this means farmers only pay $500 or less for this life-saving equipment that can otherwise cost up to $1,200. NEC also provides information to farmers on how to find and install the right rollover bar. Since its inception in 2006, the NEC reports that more than 2,150 tractors have been retrofitted with protective structures in seven states, with more than 1,500 of those retrofits occurring in New York State alone. However, all of this critical outreach and infrastructure surrounding the ROPS program could come to an end if federal funding comes to a halt.  This is why I urge you to administratively provide funding to the ROPS program, so that the  important inroads the ROPS program has made can continue. 

During these challenging times for our agricultural communities, it is imperative that we do everything in our power to ensure that our farmers and growers have every tool available to succeed. In New York State alone, the ROPS program has been extremely effective in preventing tractor rollover deaths and injuries to our farmers and growers. Feedback from the agricultural community has been extremely positive, with participants in New York reporting 221 close calls and 19 serious incidents in which death or injury was likely without protective structures. This kind of success should be touted and continued, which is why I urge you to ensure that you continue to fund the great work done by the NEC and ROPS as soon as possible.     

I understand that in the current fiscal climate resources are constrained, and as always, I vow to stand with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) throughout the budget process. However, based on the critical importance of protecting the health and safety of our agricultural workers, I ask that you ensure that federal funding continues to flow to the ROPS program past September. I look forward to working with you on this important request."

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer

May 10, 2018 - 8:46pm
posted by James Burns in Le Roy Central school, news, genesee county.

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Tonight at Mercy Grove the Le Roy Central School Senior Class hosted “Mom Prom.”

This is an annual event where graduating seniors bring their mom or special guest to show appreciation for their support and guidance while they were in school.

The three-hour soiree includes dinner and is full of surprise activities for attendees.

The highlight of the evening is a water-pong tournament. (Water pong is non-alcoholic version of beer pong.)

The winning graduate receives a $100 scholarship and their partner is crowned “Mom of the Prom.” 

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May 3, 2018 - 7:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, news, notify.

The workload for the County's IT department continues to increase and the need for reliable cybersecurity continues to grow, so Information Technology Director Steve Zimmer told county legislators on Wednesday that he needs more help.

He needs a deputy director immediately and another security analyst to work in the Sheriff's Office in 2019.

It appears he's getting both of his wishes. The committee approved a recommendation that a current vacant position be upgraded to deputy director at an additional cost of $20,000 for the remainder of the year (anticipated salary for the position is more than $70,000 annually).  

Committee members also encouraged Zimmer to start his search to hire a new security specialist in July so the new hire can start on the first day of the next budget yet, Jan. 1.

Zimmer pointed to major cyber attacks and ransomware infiltrations in Atlanta, Baltimore, Lincoln County, Ohio, and at ECMC, which cost the hospital $10 million in remediation.

“We’re spending a considerable amount of time looking at our logs, looking at our firewalls, our anti-virus appliances, trying to make sure we’re doing our due-diligence," Zimmer said. "I’m losing time every day to this stuff."

He said public safety needs at least two full-time people and right now he has one full-time person there and one person who has been taken away from other duties to help.

That means, he says, other IT tasks are being delayed.

Another major headache, Zimmer said, is the situation over at the Department of Social Services, which has long been part of the state DSS network but now the state is pushing much of the infrastructure off on the county.

There are three IT employees there who are not part of Zimmer's department holding together an outdated computer network.

"It is one of two DSS agencies in the state that doesn’t digitize anything," he said. "It’s all paper."

The state delivered 100 "zero-client" computers (meaning all software is on a server, not on the desktop) to DSS but they can't be deloyed because the network won't support them unless it's upgraded to 100 megabits. Currently, it's five megabits.

"(The upgrade is ) never going to happen, so this stuff is going to sit on a pallet shrink wrapped until the cows come home or we get together with state IT and figure out how to upgrade that network or we can get them on our network," Zimmer said. 

Problems like these, he said, he doesn't have time to deal with because of so much time of his time is spent monitoring security threats.

May 3, 2018 - 1:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in compliance officer, genesee county, Oakfield, Alabama, news.

With grant applications for state and federal funds becoming increasingly complex, often with requirements that last years after grants have been awarded, counties throughout New York are adding a new position -- compliance officer.

The Genesee County Legislature approved such a position in the 2018 position and yesterday, the county's new compliance officer, Kimberly Mills, was introduced to the Legislature at the Ways and Means Committee meeting held at Genesee Community College's new Student Success Center.

As soon they met her, the committee also agreed to a proposal from County Manager Jay Gsell to increase her new duties. She will also be the county's privacy officer.

Mills is a graduate of Oakfield-Alabama High School, started her college education at GCC, earned her bachelor's degree in Accounting at Roberts Wesleyan University, and her master's in Accounting from the University at Buffalo School of Management.

She's originally from Alabama and now lives in Oakfield.

One reason the job interested her, she said, is she has a passion for Genesee County.

"It’s a new position," Mills said. "I knew it would be a lot of work but I’m always one for new projects and working on new things."

Prior to becoming the compliance officer she was an accountant with Freed Maxick CPAs.

April 26, 2018 - 3:50pm

Submitted photos and press release:

The Batavia/Genesee Police and Fire Hockey Team participated in the third annual 2018 Police and Fire Ice Hockey Tournament in Buffalo this past weekend.

Twenty teams participated in the tourney, coming to Buffalo from as far south as South Carolina, and as far north as London, Ontario, Canada.

It was another enjoyable, face-paced weekend for our local boys, who played against teams from Canada, Erie County, and Homeland Security.

All our thanks to those who came out and cheered us on! The team was once again sponsored this year by Ken’s Charcoal Pits & BBQ, with many thanks going to Ken Mistler.

April 19, 2018 - 7:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Johnson Controls, genesee county, energy savings, news, notify.

The Genesee County Legislature is having a hard time coming to terms with borrowing $4 million to potentially save $4 million or more on future energy bills.

Not every member of the Legislature believes the cost savings are real, or that the county should borrow that much money on an expectation of saving money years from now.

Legislators Gary Maha and Andrew Young are the most skeptical.

"I appreciate the effort," Young said. "I try to look at everything just as I would for my business. Would I do it? I would not borrow $4 million and hope I got it back over the next 20 years. I don’t know too many business people who would."

He called the idea, from a business perspective, "irrational."

Clattenburg said she looked at it a little differently.

"The rationale is like any homeowner," Clattenburg said. "You buy an energy-efficient furnace and your costs are cut in half and you take saving from the energy cost and use it to pay for your furnace. You talk about (as) if, I was a business. I talk about it as if I were a housewife and I was buying a furnace. That is how I would look at it."

In summary, the proposal involves the county signing an agreement with Johnson Controls that would entail the county borrowing $4 million. Johnson Controls would then act as a contractor for a series of projects intended to reduce energy consumption at county buildings.

Many of the projects are already part of the county's capital investment plans. Over the 20 years, the county would pay $200,000 a year on the loan but save an estimated $200,000 a year in energy costs. Johnson Controls guarantees a certain amount of costs savings realized in each of the first three years of the contract. The county could buy a sort of extended warranty for additional years to guarantee savings, though that isn't really being considered.

County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens first brought the idea to the Legislature in February and the Legislature gave him the green light to put together a resolution to approve a contract with Johnson Controls.

He's been to two committee meetings this week, Public Service on Monday and Ways and Means on Wednesday, to discuss the proposal with legislators. Neither committee has yet to approve the resolutions.

Yesterday, Ways and Means tabled the resolution pending more information on other financing options, such as using $2 million the county has available and borrowing only $2 million, perhaps from another source.

“I don’t just see it as a loser," Hens said during a 30-minute robust discussion of the proposal Wednesday. "I think it’s a good deal for the county. I wouldn’t be here for my third committee meeting pushing it so heavily if I didn’t think it was a great idea for the county.”

The benefits as laid out by Hens, County Treasurer Scott German, and the legislators who support it -- Shelly Stein, Marianne Clattenburg, John Deleo, and John Hilchey -- include:

  • Front-loading paying for several capital-improvement projects that the county will have to pay for eventually anyway;
  • If the contract is signed by May 30, an interest rate of 3.5 percent is locked in (the Federal Reserve is planning three interest rate hikes this year);
  • Getting the work done before inflation drives up the costs;
  • Shifting some of the operational expense of energy from an expense against property taxes into an expense against sales taxes, which frees up space for other expenses under the tax cap;
  • Saving maintenance and repair costs on old and failing equipment;
  • Ensuring employees are working in safe and comfortable buildings that currently need significant repairs

Maha said he isn't against the idea of getting the work done, but he isn't comfortable on taking on a $4 million loan with a 20-year payoff, especially when the county is looking at a potential expense of $45 million or more for a new jail.

"The timing of it bothers me," Maha said. "I understand the benefits of the energy efficiency at the county buildings but I look at my home, you know, I haven’t put any energy into my home until I have the money. I don’t think my constituents want me to say 'yeah, go ahead and borrow $4 million' when we’ve got other projects out there that will cost the county millions of dollars.”

Not every project in this proposal will, by themselves, lead to cost savings. Putting a new roof on the highway garage, for example, won't reduce energy costs but it must be done and it can be included in the contract. Making it part of the Johnson Controls contract takes it out of the list of other capital projects the county must pay for using the existing capital budget.

Most of the cost savings actually come from some of the smaller projects, such as switching lighting in county buildings to more energy-efficient systems.

Some projects, such as replacing the eight air handlers on the roof of County Building #2, will both reduce energy costs and save maintenance costs.

"Right now we spend a ton of time repairing broken air handlers in Building #2," Hens said on Wednesday. "We don’t have great job-costing software to be able to track exactly what we spend, but I can tell you, Terry and the other guys have a lot of overtime going in after hours to fix air handlers or going to the jail to repair the boiler."

Deleo admitted to some skepticism of the proposal but near the end of the discussion Wednesday, he said he had warmed to it.

"So you’re saying right now cash is cheap, so let’s lock it in at the low rate and keep that over the 20 years because it’s cheap now, and then we’ll keep our cash in reserves and if things go off, we always have the cash, and cash is king, as they say," Deleo said. "I’m not as negative against this anymore as I hear it more and more."

Young said he doesn't think the savings is sufficient enough to justify taking on $4 million in debt. Using a calculation provided by Johnson Controls called Net Present Value, Young said there are essentially no savings.

The initial NPV calculation showed only $1,357 in savings on the value of the money, but Hens said with a lower financing rate, the new calculation is $38,519.

"I’m not 100-percent confident, there’s no guarantee it’s going to pay for itself in 20 years," Young said.

Net Present Value is a term economists use to try and determine the value of money today against the value of money at some point in the future. The calculations can get complicated. A straight calculation of $4 million today versus the value of that money in 20 years would, at a steady rate of 2-percent annual inflation, be $2.7 million.

Such straight-line calculations through having little predictive value. We don't know what the rate of inflation will be in each year, what interest rates might be in future years (if money isn't borrowed now and is instead borrowed on a project-by-project basis in coming years); and in this case, how the cost of energy will change over 20 years.

Maha is concerned about placing bets on the prediction of the future, he said. Who knows what technology changes will come in 20 years? He suggested in 20 years, whoever is still around in county government will have no real knowledge of why the loan exists and what purpose it served.

"I want to reiterate that my concern is, I don't care if it's $1 million or $4 million, I don't like the 20 years," Maha said. "Who knows what is going to happen 20 years down the road. Who is going to look back in 20 years and remember why we did this?"

Clattenburg countered, “We might look back in 20 years and say look at all the money we saved over the 20 years.”

Both Hens and German made the point a couple of times during the discussion that the estimated saving presented by Johnson Controls should be considered "conservative" estimates that the actual cost savings should be higher. Johnson Controls, Hens noted, with the first-three-year guarantee on its estimates, doesn't want to overestimate and wind up owing the county money, so their estimates are cautious.

Clattenburg, who chairs Ways and Means, was perhaps the staunchest proponent of the Johnson Controls proposal.

“If we don’t do this and we go the other route (paying for each project individually), don’t come to me to override the tax cap at any point," Clattenburg said. "I hope you are willing to do that if we don’t go this way because that’s what’s going to happen."

Neither legislators Bob Bausch nor Gregg Torrey expressed an overt opinion on whether they will support the proposed contract. But Bausch suggested that maybe the county could use current capital project funds along with some reserves, up to about $2 million, to reduce the amount of money borrowed. That would both reduce the total amount of interest paid and reduce the length of the loan, perhaps to as little as six years.

Hens said that would mean going to another firm for financing and losing the guaranteed 3.5 percent rate. German said he would have to gather estimates but the rate wouldn't be guaranteed until the county was actually ready to take out the loan, which could be two months.

The committee agreed to table the resolution until German is able to report back on that option.

CLARIFICATIONS: We should have pointed out in the body of the story that the estimated cost savings on utility bills alone if the loan is taken out is $117,250. Hens says that's a conservative estimate based on an inflation rate of 3 percent over 20 years. He said the actual rate since 1998 has been 3.9 percent and going back to 1958, the averaged annual rate of inflation for energy costs has been 4.32 percent. If either of those figures hold true, he said, the county will save substantially more.

April 9, 2018 - 4:37pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, genesee county, Announcements, disabilities, ILGR.

Press release:

Once again, the Western New York Independent Living Inc. Family of Agencies (WNYIL) is gathering nominations of members of the disability community who have made ongoing, significant contributions, such as support, assistance and inspiration to others.

Deadline for nominations is 5 p.m. Friday, April 13.

The winner will be honored with WNYIL's Independent Citizen Award at its Fifth Annual “Night for Independence" Gala on Saturday, May 12th at the Classics V Banquet & Conference Center, 2425 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst.

Ideally, the nominee should meet the five core values of this award: 

  • Exemplifying independence in the community, such as: by beginning a special project; by spearheading an awareness effort; or by gaining the support of decision-makers, for the benefit of others with disabilities or the general community;
  • Going above and beyond what would be expected to assist others, by offering personal experience or expertise, organizing individuals around an issue, enlisting partnerships, and/or revealing self-sacrificing work;
  • Remaining active in the community over an extended period, even after an initial success with an activity or major project;
  •  Rejecting others’ criticism or doubt, that potentially could have deterred the individual from striving to reach and achieve personal goals;
  •  Showing the world the value of one person’s actions by encouraging others to have a contributing, encouraging, and positive attitude about making the community a better place for all. 

If you are aware of an individual who has served those with disabilities, and who, you feel, would meet all these criteria, please contact Marykate Waringa of WNYIL’s Office of Community Engagement at (716) 836-0822, ext. 146; or email her with the candidate’s name, a paragraph about his/her qualifications and contact information, as well as YOUR name and contact information, to [email protected].

Thank you for your willingness to help acknowledge deserving members of our community! 

WNYIL is Western New York's largest cross-disability, consumer-directed, non-residential organization for persons with disabilities. At WNYIL, individuals of all ages and all types of disabilities learn to exercise their freedom of choice to take control of their own lives, in order to live more productively in, and contribute to, the community.

March 22, 2018 - 1:50pm

Press release:

The Attica Central School District will offer a free Prekindergarten program for the 2018-2019 school year. The northern tip of the district is in Genesee County.

The Universal Prekindergarten is a preschool program established by the State Education Department. The Prekindergarten program is taught by a NYS certified teacher and aide.

Prekindergarten Registration for the Attica Central School District

Children who are residents of the Attica Central School District and who will be 4 years old on or before Dec. 1, 2018 are eligible to register for the Prekindergarten half-day program. There is no cost to families. Transportation is the responsibility of the parent.

For the 2018-2019 school year, the program will be held five days per week (Monday-Friday) following the Instructional School Calendar. There will be a morning and afternoon session with a limit of 18 students per session.

If you would like your child to participate in the program, please apply by completing the Attica Central School District Registration Form and accompanying paperwork. Registration materials are available on the District website or by contacting Ann Marie loranty at 585-591-0400, ext. 1408.

All registration forms need to be submitted no later than March 29.

Please bring your completed form and ALL required documents to the Attica High School Main Office, 3338 E. Main Street Road, Attica, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

For your information, the Wyoming County YMCA operates an after-school program at the Attica Elementary school. This program is available to preschool parents who participate in the afternoon prekindergarten session. Please contact the YMCA at 585-786-2880 for details on the program and to receive a registration form.

We strive to continue to offer this opportunity to residents of the Attica Central School District and hope that you are able to take advantage of this valuable educational opportunity for your child. If you have any questions please contact Mrs. Beitz, Elementary Principal, at (585) 591-0400, ext. 2235.

March 22, 2018 - 11:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, economics, news, notify.

County Treasurer Scott German told members of the Legislature on Wednesday that he's somewhat surprised that Standard & Poor's has continued Genesee County's slightly downgraded credit rating because of a "weak economy."

He said he disagreed with the assessment.

"For some reason, they say we have a very weak economy here," German said. "I don’t get that."

The county's rating is AA-, which has been the case for awhile now. The minus after AA indicates the county is a slightly worse credit risk than other agencies with an AA rating. The highest rating is AAA.

A credit risk assessment, or bond rating, effects the cost of borrowing money, such as it needs for water projects or is likely to need for a new jail.

The county fares well as a credit risk because of good management, budgetary performance, strong budgetary flexibility, very strong liquidity, and low debt load.

The county's credit risk outlook for new municipal bonds is "stable," according to the report.

It's the "very weak economy" that is dragging the credit rating down, according to the report.

S&P's report says that the buying power of county residents is 83.2 percent of the national level with a per-capita market value $49,542.

"Overall, the county's market value grew by 2.1 percent over the past year to $2.9 billion in 2018," the report states.

The report does note that while income is below state and national averages, the county's unemployment rate is also traditionally lower and that remains true.

The county's tax base has increased modestly and consistently over the past five years.

There is unrealized hope for growth through the county's economic development efforts, the report states, particularly with STAMP -- Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park -- the 1,250-acre nano-tech business park under development in Alabama.

"However, given its early stages of development, it remains to be seen if these industries will relocate to the county," the report states. "One company recently changed its decision to move to the park."

The report also takes note of the $10 million allocated by the state for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and the expansion of the HP Hood facility in the Genesee Agri-Business Park as positive signs for the future.

"Given the modest amount of development still ongoing, we do not expect the tax base to experience any negative pressure in the near term," the report states.

February 21, 2018 - 3:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, news, notify.

Genesee County is exploring the possibility of entering into a contract with a consultant who will help the county save money on energy costs and reduce energy usage.

County Superintendent Tim Hens presented a proposal to enter into an agreement with Johnson Controls that would enable the county to fund many projects for system upgrades that need to take place anyway but in a manner that would make the projects cost neutral for the county.

Johnson Controls would finance over 20 years $3.9 million in projects in the county and the county would make annual payments on the financing through its annual cost savings.

Cost savings over the first three years are guaranteed. Hens said the county can purchase guarantees in subsequent years but the experience of other agencies that have entered into such agreements is that once the cost savings are proven, it doesn't make sense to spend money to save money.

It's been 10 years since the County went through a federally funded energy audit, so Johnson came in about six months ago and reviewed all of the county's facilities, bringing in consultants from all over the nation with expertise in various relevant fields.

Hens has received a summary of recommendations. Some of the projects are easy, such as switching out all of the fluorescent lights for LED lights or putting vending machines on timers. They get more complicated when getting into boilers, HVAC systems, electrical panels, and breakers or air handlers.

"They went over all over buildings with a really fine-tooth comb and found a lot of things we didn't even know we had," Hens said. 

Many of the projects would typically be part of the county's routine capital budget for facilities but under the possible agreement, instead of tapping the capital budget Johnson would finance those projects, freeing up that portion of the capital budget for other projects.

The financing rates from Johnson, Hens said, are competitive and would save the county from entering the bond market.

He cited the City of Batavia and Byron-Bergen Central Schools as examples of local agencies that have had a successful relationship with Johnson.

Yesterday, the Public Service Committee reacted favorably to the proposal -- there was no vote taken -- so Hens is expected to come back to the Legislature next month with a written proposal and a proposed contract for a possible vote to move forward.

January 18, 2018 - 5:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in nursing home, genesee county, news, notify.

As the County wraps up expenses related to the sale of the Genesee County Nursing Home, officials expect to have about $17 million available for funds dedicated to infrastructure, including roads and bridges.

"That's what we said we would do with the money and that's what we're doing," said Marianne Clattenburg, chair of the Ways and Means Committee at yesterday's meeting.

It looks like the proceeds of the $15.2 million sale of the nursing home to Premier Healthcare Management LLC is $10,033,000.

The county is also collecting $7 million in unpaid intergovernmental transfers (federal reimbursement for medical expenses for nursing home patients). This money will also be set aside for infrastructure.

There is still some wrangling with insurance companies, said Treasure Scott German, over money the companies think they are owned and money the county think it is due. There may be additional minor expenses to close out, but those payments will be handled through the general fund.

In other words, the budget line for the nursing home in the county's expense ledger is now officially closed.

January 18, 2018 - 12:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Weights and Measures, genesee county, news.

Changes are coming to Weights and Measures in Genesee County.

Starting Monday, Weights and Measures will no longer be a stand-alone department of county government. There will be a single employee reporting to an environmental health supervisor in the Health Department.

Also, once approved by the Legislature, Genesee County will start charging fees for Weights and Measures services.

Paul Pettit, director of the Health Department, said Genesee County appears to be the only county that hasn't been charging for the service.

The new fee schedule will bring in about $25,000 annually.

"The fees do not fully compensate the full cost of the program," Pettit said. "It's a revenue offset."

Article 16 of the Ag and Markets Law requires counties to have a director of Weights and Measures. The new inspector will have the title of director but not the duties of a department head. The Health Department will handle budgeting and administrative work for the inspector.

The county is responsible for inspecting weight and measurement devices throughout the county, such as gas pumps and meat counter scales and similar devices where fees are charged based on weight or volume, except on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation, where there are no government inspection services.

January 4, 2018 - 4:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in county legislature, genesee county, news.

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Gary Maha, Gordon Dibble, and John Hilchey, the three newest members of the Genesee County Legislature, along with the rest of the Legislature, took their oaths of office Wednesday night prior to the Legislature's organizational meeting at the Old Courthouse.

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Robert Bausch, representing Elba, Byron, and Bergen, was chosen to chair the Legislature.

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From left, Pam LaGrou, clerk to the legislators, Gary Maha, Gordon Dibble, Shelly Stein, Andrew Young, Bob Bausch, John Deleo, Marianne Clattenburg, Gregg Torrey, John Hilchey, and County Manager Jay Gsell.

December 29, 2017 - 11:52am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, town of batavia, genesee county.

Stating that “we’re not willing to sign it in its present form,” Batavia Town Supervisor Gregory Post said this morning that the Batavia Town Board did not take any action in connection with an amended and restated water agreement with Genesee County.

The board met on Thursday afternoon but decided not to sign off on the document, a 40-year agreement for water supply between the county and the town.

Post would not say what aspects of the agreement were deemed unacceptable.

“It is a complex issue; a work in progress,” he said.

County Manager Jay Gsell also would not elaborate, saying only that county legislators will discuss the situation next week and “continue our conversation with the Town of Batavia.”

As reported Wednesday on The Batavian, amendments to the water agreement focus on making sure municipalities are aware there is no unlimited supply of water and giving the county the flexibility it needs to increase the surcharge that municipalities pay as the demand for water increases.

Per County Attorney Kevin Earl, the restated agreement includes a provision that the county has to give 120 days prior notice to towns and villages of a price increase and, as part of the master plan, explain why an increase is warranted.

Phone calls to Earl and Batavia Town Attorney Andrew Meier were not returned as of the posting of this story.

December 27, 2017 - 12:51pm

Lawyers for Genesee County and the Town of Batavia are in the final stages of drafting an amended and restated water agreement – a document that, if completed in time, will be considered by the Town Board at a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Town Hall on West Main Street Road.

According to Genesee County Attorney Kevin Earl, the amended agreement that will govern the Town’s water usage will focus on making sure the municipality (and all towns and villages in the county, for that matter) understand that the county is unable to supply an unlimited amount of water and that the county has the flexibility to increase the surcharge that municipalities pay.

“The county needs the flexibility to increase the surcharge (currently at 60 cents per thousand gallons of water) and ensure that everybody pays the same price,” Earl said. “The restated agreement will have a provision that the county has to give 120 days prior notice to the towns and villages of a price increase and, as part of the master plan, explain why an increase is necessary.”

Earl is working with Batavia Town Attorney Andrew Meier on finalizing the agreement.

County Manager Jay Gsell said that the next phase in the distribution of water calls for an increase of about 2.5 million gallons per day on top of the 8.1 million gallon currently supplied to county users as a result of agreements with the Monroe County Water Authority, Erie County Water Authority and the City’s water treatment facility.

“We’re estimating a surcharge increase of 60 to 80 cents per thousand,” Gsell said, “which is to be used for water system improvements only and to pay off the debt service of $20 million from 1999-2000.”

Gsell noted that future phases over the next five to 10 years are expected to increase the supply to 15 million to 20 million gallons per day.

Should municipalities approve the amended and restated agreements over the next several weeks, the earliest date of any surcharge increase would be June 2018, Earl said, due to the 120-day notice provision.

Earl said the many industrial development projects in the county will drive up the demand for water in the future, and that the county is planning to spend the money required to meet the demand.

Those projects/sites include the STAMP (Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park) site in the Town of Alabama, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, Buffalo East Tech Park, and increased need in areas such as Bethany, Alabama, Darien and Town of Batavia, as well as the possible replacement (to increase the capacity) of the City water plant.

December 4, 2017 - 12:33pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, genesee county, Old Engine House.

Update: Monday, Nov. 4 -- 2:15 p.m.

Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell said that county legislators want to take a closer look at the county's downtown facilities before making a decision about the future of the Old Engine House.

"They want further discussion and also want to walk through the downtown buildings," Gsell said. "At this time it is best to slow down a little bit, (cancelling) the public hearing and in the aftermath of the City Council's reaction (to the proposal to redevelop the Engine House). Now is not the best time to move forward and ask for a million dollars if we don't have all of our ducks in a row."

Gsell said that he believes that more Restore New York funding will be available in 2018, and also mentioned outstanding funds from previous state and regional economic development initiatives.

He said that should Genesee County move to relinquish the Engine House, public defenders currently working there would be relocated (likely to the adjacent Genesee County Court Facility) and that facilties management employees would "move to the highway department (on Cedar Street) eventually anyway."

As far as Genesee County holding on to the building, Gsell said that it would need much renovation, noting that there is no close-by parking, no access to the second floor and that it is not handicapped-accessible.

"It should be mentioned that when the county purchased the property, it was the parking lot that was important (to serve the courthouse buidling)," he said. "The Engine House was an afterthought; a building that was bought through a tax lien from the city for $250,000 in 1996-97."

Previous story:

"I spoke with the county manager and at the present time the county is not prepared to dispose of the property."

With that statement this morning by Batavia City Manager Jason Molino, the public hearing scheduled for 5 o'clock this afternoon to consider a proposal to redevelop the Old Engine House has been cancelled.

When asked if Genesee County's change of heart puts an end to the idea of turning the former restaurant into a commercial/residential site, Molino would not offer any more information.

A call to County Manager Jay Gsell has yet to be returned.

At City Council's most recent meeting (Nov. 27), board members voted to set the public hearing for the application of a $1 million grant to redevelop the county-owned Engine House on Main Street.

The proposal was not eagerly received, however, as some council members questioned the process -- stating that they weren't given enough advance notification -- and one questioned the selection of Thompson Builds of Byron as the developer.

In a memo to Council, Molino reported that a Restore New York Communities Initiative grant was available for the project, but it could only be applied for by a city, town or village -- not Genesee County. The city manager also stated that the county was willing to declare the property as "surplus" and was on board with its redevelopment.

The plan, as outlined by Molino after discussions with the Batavia Development Corporation, Genesee County and Thompson Builds, was to convert the 14,425-square-foot buildilng for business use on the first floor and residential use on the second floor.

In the end, Council voted to set the public hearing, focusing on the prospect of returning the property to the tax rolls.

While it was reported that the building is vacant, it actually houses offices for the public defender (the Genesee County Court Facility is next door) as well as the shop for the county's facilities management divisiion, which also is in close proximity to key county-owned buildings.

November 17, 2017 - 4:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, RTS, Announcements, genesee county, bus service, Black friday.

Press release:

To make it easier for customers to access shopping destinations on Black Friday, Nov. 24, Regional Transit Service is providing free basic route bus service in Genesee County, and in Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, Wayne and Wyoming counties during regular business hours.

The free service will be available during RTS’ regular business hours on basic route service and will not apply to any deviation, dial-a-ride or other premium services. Anyone requesting service beyond the basic route service will be charged the regular fare.

Who:  RTS Genesee, RTS Livingston, RTS Ontario, RTS Orleans, RTS Wayne and RTS Wyoming

What:  Free basic route service on Black Friday

When:  Black Friday, Nov. 24, during regular business hours

For all other information, visit www.myRTS.com.

November 16, 2017 - 6:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in tourism, genesee county, business, news.

Sports is a booming business for tourism in Genesee County, according to Kelly Rapone, tourism marketing director for the Chamber of Commerce.

Between soccer at Batavia Sports Park, the Darien Lake baseball and softball tournaments, golf getaways, and various other competitive sports events that attract people from throughout the region and the Northeast, Genesee County hotels are often selling out during the spring and summer, Rapone told members of the County Legislator's Ways and Means Committee yesterday.

"Every weekend, I would say, from May right through July, we are booked up, our hotels, for sports," Rapone said.

That helps contribute to one of the major funding sources for the Chamber of Commerce, the county's bed tax.

Last year, the bed tax fell a little short of projections but Tom Turnbull, chamber president, said it looks like the revenue will exceed the $420,000 target, despite a rainy June.

Revenue was up 3 percent in the first quarter, 3 percent in the fourth quarter, but down 1 percent in the third quarter.

"The big factor there is probably Darien Lake," Turnbull said. "They are a big contributor to the bed tax and it was a rainy summer. Their numbers were, I know, down a little bit, but still 1 percent is not too bad."

The fourth quarter should make up for it, Turnbull said, with a projected increase of 17 percent.

Rapone said the golf packages the chamber sells fell off significantly in June, from leading to the booking of 93 room nights a year ago to just 29 this June.

"You can see, they all kind of shifted out to later in the summer and then we did another push for fall packages," Rapone said.

The chamber's budget for 2017 expected $66,000 from New York in matching funds for the "I Love NY" tourism promotion program, but the chamber received only $64,400 this year. That is the number the chamber will budget for 2018 and hope for an increase in that amount.

The chamber also generates its own revenue through a visitors guide, dining guide, coupon book and the golf packages. The budget anticipated $106,000 in revenue from these sources and the actual revenue for 2017 will be at least $108,000. The chamber will budget $110,000 for 2018.

Rapone said the county may see an increase in Chinese tourists, with a shift away over the next four years from bus tours to more individual travelers.

This year, the chamber hosted a group of 16 Chinese travel guides who were touring the state.

She also talked about how the Chinese pay for things. There is only one national credit card and that isn't always accepted by businesses in the United States.

"A Chinese traveller would never pull out his Chinese credit card to pay for something if he thought there might be the slightest chance it would be denied," Rapone said.

So what they carry is a card called Union Pay. What a lot of merchants don't understand, she said, is if they can accept Discover, they can accept Union Pay.

She said she visited a deli over the summer and the owner complained that the Chinese who came in never bought anything. She told him about Union Pay. The next week, he had all the signage up in the store to show he accepted Union Pay.

"It's the simple things that make us more welcoming," she said. "Like, they don't like ice in their drinking water. They want their water and tea at room temperature."

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